A grieving dad wrote the most heartbreaking Grammy-nominated album of the year.

Jazz saxophonist Jimmy Greene was nominated for two Grammys at the awards show airing tonight. The nominations were his first.

Jimmy Greene in 2001. Photo by Gabe Palacio/Getty Images.


It was bittersweet moment for Greene, whose nominated album, titled "Beautiful Life," has its roots in tragedy.

Greene and his wife, Nelba Marquez-Greene, embrace. Photo by Don Emmert/Getty Images.

Greene's daughter, Ana, was one of 20 students killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012.

Photo by Don Emmert/Getty Images.

In January, Greene told CBS News that recording the album was his way of coming to terms with the enormous grief that followed his daughter's death:

"One of his songs from his album, 'Seventh Candle,' symbolizes the candle he'd never get to put on Ana's next birthday cake. She was just six — and a "half," as she would always emphasize to her parents — when she was killed.

Greene wrote the song around the time of her seventh birthday in 2013, playing it specifically on soprano saxophone because that is the closest range to his daughter's voice."

Since the Sandy Hook shooting, over 550 American children have died from gunshots.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

Between 1999 and 2014, there were over 6,400 gun-related deaths of children age 14 and younger. Mosts of these were homicides, according to an NBC News analysis of CDC data.

One of them was Ana Marquez-Greene.

After Ana's death, Greene felt he didn't have a choice but to channel his feelings into his music. In a video interview, he told The Recording Academy that the music he composed "felt very much so like it needed to be documented" in the months after his daughter's death.

"I want the music to reflect the way that Ana lived," he wrote on his website.

In a "special message" on his website, Greene asks fans to urge their representatives in Congress to write common sense into America's gun laws to help prevent the next Sandy Hook.


Greene, center, with fellow Sandy Hook parents, President Barack Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

"There has been much debate in Washington D.C. and in state legislatures nationwide about gun control policy in response to the Sandy Hook School murders," Greene wrote. "Your voice and your vote count! Let your elected leaders know you want to make our schools and communities safer. Write them, call them, email them, but please don't remain silent."

Until that happens, Greene's nominations are a testament to the power music has to express what words and data often can't.

Photo by Gabe Palacio/Getty Images.

While Greene says he's "thankful" and "humbled" by the honor, his wife, Nelba Marquez-Greene, believes his nominations and his music are most importantly a lesson in how we can move on from the worst moments in life.

"They say after a trauma, there's three normal responses. You know, fight, flight or freeze," Marquez-Greene told CBS. "And I think what Jimmy did is he showed and he is showing people that there's another way and that's create."

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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One little girl took pictures of her school lunches. The Internet responded — and so did the school.

If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.

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This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

It's not a stretch to say the kids in this video are on the cutting edge. Some of the results he talks about in the video at the bottom are quite impressive.

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